Even if Governor Romney chose to pay the ransom, his payment would not guarantee the return of his personal tax records. According to http://www.venturebeat.com, the group claims that it will also be accepting offers from other people or groups that may wish to obtain these records. If someone else offers a higher ransom than Romney, the hacker group claims it will turn the records over to the highest offer. Obviously, the group has committed several felonies and is much less than honorable, so there is no reason that Romney should take them at their word. He might well pay the money and the hacker group might still turn the documents over to those who would act less than honorably and release the private records to the public, or they might release it themselves.
As a citizen of the United States, I condemn the foregoing criminal acts. I specifically renounce any effort to gain unjust enrichment from the theft and misappropriation of a another citizen’s private tax records. This is simply wrong on the most basic level. Sure, Romney may not have chosen to release as many of his tax records as past presidents and candidates have, but he shouldn’t have to; these are private records. The election laws require that a number of personal documents be released when running for the presidency. Governor Romney dutifully complied with these requirements, which included a significant number of his previous year’s tax returns. Some past presidents may have released more or less. The important point is that he complied with the rules, which balance the right of privacy with the needs of the public to know about the people running for the highest office in the land. Again, the essential thing to consider is that he made the necessary returns public and complied with the time-honored rules.
It seems that groups close to the Obama campaign have chosen to hound Romney for the release of much more than he is required by law or past practice to produce. Why? Is it because his tax records might reveal that he is the epitome of the success America offers all of its citizens? Yes, Romney is extremely wealthy. His family represents the classic “rags to riches” American success story, and some groups and individuals are attempting to portray the hard work that produced his success as some form of obvious evil. I suppose the tax returns are supposed to represent some form of undeniable proof that he made money, perhaps a lot of money, while many Americans made either less money or perhaps no money. A question that also may rise to mind is, “So what?” If true, is this not a good reason to either vote or not vote for him? He found success where others could not. Is this the kind of guy we want looking for success on our behalf, as our senior-most national leader? I am just a college student, but it seems pretty obvious that it would be wise to select a successful man to lead America into what we hope to be a successful future.
Honestly, as an American citizen I am more inclined to wonder about the transparency offered by our current president. Within days of entering office, he signed several executive orders which directed those in government to make their work product and records transparent to the American people. However, as to his own records, his own past, his own education and his own records of public office… well, they have not been so transparent. He makes quite a bit of himself regarding his Ivy League education, but refuses to release his education records. Do these old records not reveal as much about the man as the old tax records of Governor Romney? Why the double-standard? Fair questions, I think! However, in abundant fairness, let’s put these questions aside for a moment and ask why does President Obama refuse to release his academic records? I believe it is because they don’t exist or because he was at the bottom of his class. These are questions that are not crucial when discussing the job he has done as president, but focus more on his integrity. He has held himself out as a powerful intellect. If his academic records indicate otherwise, it is a matter of integrity or in this case, lack thereof.
We as Americans ask much of our leaders. This should motivate them in turn to work harder in order to accomplish what “We the People” wish to be done. Right now, it appears we are diving deeper and deeper into our leaders’ private lives.
The question, I believe, becomes: Do we have the right to seek so much information about what the typical American would never wish released to his brother citizens, even if he was running for high public office? In my opinion, I believe Governor Romney should not have to release these records. It is not a requirement, thus we cannot demand this of him.
On the one hand, we might think it reasonable to probe into every aspect of our political leaders’ lives. Of course, it is vital to know as much as possible about the people making the decisions for us because these decisions will undoubtedly affect our lives as American citizens.
On the other hand, we as citizens cannot be so hypocritical as to condemn a man based on his refusal to release information that we ourselves would never release. Christian Sprinkle, a sophomore majoring in international and cultural studies at UT believes, “A man should never judge another man on a choice that he himself would also make.”
Whether the information sought is held by the incumbent or those who challenge Romney, the question is the same. I used the issues regarding the president’s academic records to frame the issue, and not to be disrespectful to the high office that he holds. I respect him because he is my president, fairly elected within the rubric of our constitutional framework. Moreover, I pray for his success on a frequent basis E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” However, I submit that there may be a bit of hypocrisy at play here if we do not apply the rules evenly to those on both sides of the line.
Richard J. Whitaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org